7 Things to Know About the Official Perfume of Kings and Queens, Past and Present

Prince Charles, Prince Williams, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kate Moss use fragrances by Penhaligon's.

Many will agree that a century is more than enough time for a brand to build its legacy.

Penhaligon’s, a favorite among past and present kings and queens, is steeped in its own colorful history. The scent continues to enrich this legacy by using the finest rare ingredients from around the globe—from hand-squeezed bergamot to jasmine that’s twice the price of gold.

Penhaligon’s started out like many other success stories: with a small-town dreamer who had nothing to his name. To celebrate the brand’s 146-year heritage, we take a look back at Penhaligon’s milestones:

1. It was established during the Victorian Era.

A Penhaligon's shop in London

William Penhaligon, the brand’s founder, traded in his rural life at Cornwall to try his luck in London. He took a train and moved to the city in the 1860’s. Not long afterward, he put up his own barber’s shop on Jermyn Street. Like his fellow barbers during the time, Penhaligon was keen on pushing his own brand of products to sell his clients.

2. Penhaligon’s first scent was inspired by the Hammam or the Turkish bath.

The Hammam Bouquet eau de toilette

The barber would attend to the Shah of Persia’s beard, and he would always dab an eau de toilette on his client. To launch his namesake line of fragrances, Penhaligon was inspired by the scent of steam and aromas coming from the nearby Turkish baths in Piccadilly, and this unusual fragrance was what brought Hammam Bouquet to life in 1872. The oriental fragrance is carefully masked with head notes of lavender and bergamot, and base notes of amber, musk, and sandalwood. 

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3. For a time, it was known as Penhaligon and Jeavons.

Penhaligon and Jeavons on 33 James Street

As business was flourishing, Penhaligon entered into a partnership with Mr. Jeavons, a hairdresser, in 1880. Penhaligon’s and Jeavons’ joined together and moved to a new location at 33 James Street and 66 Jermyn Street. Penhaligon passed away in 1902, and Jeavons followed three weeks later. Penhaligon's son Walter took over and, in 1904, the business became known solely as Penhaligon’s.

4. William Penhaligon was named the official barber and perfumer to the royal court of Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria

Apart from the shah, Penhaligon had also found loyal patrons in the British monarchy. Before earning its first royal warrant from Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII, in 1903, William Penhaligon also had a special place in the royal court as official barber and perfumer after Queen Victoria’s reign. It was noted in the first warrant that the distinction was granted as a “devotee of natural products only which was Penhaligon’s trademark.”

Today, the brand still holds two royal warrants—one from the Duke of Edinburgh and another from the Prince of Wales.

5. One of its most iconic scents, the Blenheim Bouquet, was made for the Duke of Marlborough and took its name from his official residence.

The Blenheim Bouquet was made especially for the Duke of Marlborough

In formulating its second perfume, Penhaligon’s took a more regal approach by bottling the Blenheim Bouquet, a mixture of pine, eucalyptus, musk, and black pepper. The scent takes its name from Blenheim Palace, the official residence of the dukes of Marlborough, the aristocratic family from whom Winston Churchill was descended. It was first originally meant for men but also found popularity among women. Today, the fragrance is still the longest surviving bespoke fragrance.


6. Some of the brand’s loyal customers include high-profile personalities from Prince William to Kate Moss.

Prince William is a fan of the Blenheim Bouquet

Prince William most likely picked up Prince Charles’ taste in fragrances, as both father and son have taken a liking to the Blenheim Bouquet. (This also gives us a feeling that the brand will receive a royal warrant from Prince William in the future). Among other famous Penhaligon’s clients are Sarah Jessica Parker, who uses the Violetta body lotion, and Kate Moss, who wore Bluebell on her wedding day.

7. Its newest scent is actually an update that pays tribute to the royal clash between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, which was known as the War of the Roses.

Penhaligon's new offering, the Elisabethan Rose

Now, something for the ladies. For its latest release, Penhaligon’s is putting a modern spin on the Elisabethan Rose perfume, which was first launched in 1984. The feminine fragrance is completely reworked, opening with hazelnut leaves, almond oil, and cinnamon. At the heart is a double rose scent: Centifolia rose oil and rose absolute enveloped in red lily. A poignant symbol associated with the historic battle is stamped on the bottle for added elegance.

Penhaligon's is available at Rustan's department stores.

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Hannah Lazatin
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